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Later D.C. Bar Hours Defeated in Committee

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tom Sherwood reports on the latest snag in a push to let bars stay open later in the District. (Published Wednesday, May 2, 2012)

    D.C. bar hours will stay the way they are for now.

    A D.C. Council committee defeated a measure to allow bars to stay open later, dealing a big setback to Mayor Vincent Gray’s budget plan. He wanted the later hours to raise revenue for the city, but the committee said no.

    The bar and restaurant business provides tens of millions of dollars in city taxes each year. Gray wanted to extend closings by one hour -- to 3 a.m. weeknights and 4 a.m. weekends -- to raise an extra $3 million.

    The D.C. Council Human Service Committee, which oversees alcohol sales, rejected the mayor's proposal. It wasn't a good idea for customers or neighborhoods surrounding bars, committee Chairman Jim Graham said, and there's little public transportation to fight drunken driving.

    The committee voted 3-to-2 to kill the mayor's plan.

    Graham also is considering an increase in taxes on alcohol to help fund social services -- a move that Mayor Gray opposes.

    Advocates for later hours, including many bars themselves, say extending the hours would not be a public safety problem and would generate far more than $3 million in additional revenue.

    Graham said he was voting to protect the peace, order and quiet of city neighborhoods.

    The committee voted to allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. around presidential inaugurations, something the city has done in the past with special legislation.